Bodhran Tippers Of The World-Part 1

by MichelleStewart on April 3, 2013

A few months ago I asked the bodhran community to send me photos of their tipper collections, big or small.

The goal was simply to share our mutual passion for bodhran and possibly even enlighten others about tippers from around the world.

I figured I’d get a good response, but I didn’t anticipate quite so many entries so I’ve had to break the album down into parts to showcase the collections best.

So, here it is, Part 1 of the ‘Tippers Of The World’ album.  If you’ve sent me your photo, but don’t see it here yet don’t worry. It will be featured in an upcoming release.

Enjoy the wealth of information shared here, but please don’t feel like you need to rush out and buy twenty new tippers. Many of the larger collections have grown over the years, but all you need is one really good tipper to get started.

With that said, if you’re looking for a new tipper I suspect these collections and accompanying descriptions will be extremely helpful.

Drum On!

~ Michelle

                                    Part 1

Savage, Minnesota, USA

Below from left are my 2 JJ Speed tippers Crüe first in white maple and the second kingwood. They are the 2 that I use almost exclusively for practice and playing. The third is a Merlin’s Key made of ebony. Fourth is an ebony Shorty for single ended play with the top butt nestled in the center of my palm. The are all made by Brian of Brian’s Bodhran beaters. The 5th one you see you might want to go ask Cameron as I dare not speak his name. 🙂

Brian McGill – Savage, Minnesota, USA

A few months later (tipper collection grown since sending in first pic) Below from left to right

  1. Bell n Ball: Maple
  2. Shorty: Ebony
  3. Merlin’s Key: Ebony
  4. JJs Speed: Maple
  5. Gordon’s Spike: Maple
  6. JJs Speed: Kingwood

Then next 4 are my own design that I have been working with Brian LeTourneau on, so he is making modifications as I ask. He has called this design the ‘mcgill’

  • 1: Burmese Teak mcgill
  • 2: Lignum Vitae mcgill
  • 3: Red Teak mcgill
  • 4: Maple (this was the original and Brian inserted a metal slug in the end for balance. I think a little too forward balanced myself)

The last one on the right I don’t know the name of, nor do I know the wood. I cannot even remember where I picked it up. ~ Brian


Mariposa, California, USA

From left to right, they are (in the order I obtained them):

  1. The generic tipper that came with my first bodhran, a Pakistani special
  2. A no-name-brand knob tipper I purchased from a folk music store (it was the only kind they had in stock)
  3. A Hedwitschak SW3
  4. A homemade bamboo rod tipper
  5. A Hedwitschak NEF3.

The NEF3 is my favorite because of its balance, punch, and versatility. It is a dream to play with. The homemade rod tipper also plays very well, despite its stocky appearance; I believe I got the idea for it from your YouTube videos. I was initially very fond of the SW3 tipper, but have since found that it is somewhat too light for my playing style — if I ordered from the same SW line today, I would go for the SW6 or SW7. And, believe it or not, the el Cheapo Pakistani tipper gets a fair share of use, too; it’s actually pretty nimble. Kind regards,

Chris Coyle – Mariposa, California, USA

Derbyshire, UK, now Oklahoma City, USA

Michelle – here’s my tipper photo. I have a few ‘firewood’ ones that I absolutely never use so I didn’t include those. Tipper listing left to right:

Hotrods 1-6 self made:

  1. Bamboo skewers – Niell Lyons style (great on the SOK bodhran)
  2. “Fat Lad” hotrod – Thick centre oak dowel with 3/16th inch hardwood dowels (designed specifically for my Belgarth – packs a real punch)
  3. “Slim Jim” – thin centre oak dowel with hardwood dowels (slightly longer- good swishy/clicky sound)
  4. 3/16th Hardwood dowels double ended. (Newly made – not played it yet)
  5. 3/16th Hardwood dowels – single ended. (Good all round ‘clicky’ hotrod)
  6. ‘Half’n’Half’ hotrod – bamboo skewers with four 3/16th dowels.
  7. Snakewood – (Eoin Leonard – Belgarth) – My favourite tipper
  8. Snakewood – (Falconwood Tippers)
  9. Ebony drumstick style (Falconwood Tippers) – custom-made, a cross between the Robbie Walsh and Colm Phelan Signature models.
  10. Hammer brass insert tipper in cocobolo wood (Whistle and Drum) – great for slow reels, hornpipes, marches where you need to give a real punch.
  11. Paint brush – rich two-tone sound (brushy and pop)
  12. Ebony tipper (eBay purchase) Hand turned by a chap in N.Ireland. Weighty tipper, sounds great on my Vignoles 18″.
  13. Felt covered ball tipper
  14. Pear-drop tipper. Came with my first non-tunable Waltons, but has a nice balance. Much better than most starter tippers.
  15. Bell/ball tipper. Came with my used Vignoles. Nice weight and balance.
  16. “Bow-hran Stick” (Fiddle bow tipper with grip from Bone Dry Music)
  17. “Bow-hran Stick” (Fiddle bow tipper without grip from Bone Dry Music)
  18. Carrot – I’m right out of radishes 😉
  19. Wood stick. Used for left-hand accompanying beats.

Dave Cooper – Derbyshire, UK, now Oklahoma City, USA


Newfoundland, Canada

From left to right top row:

  1. Tipper hand carved by Glenn Stout
  2. Tipper with ridge in middle made by Cas Smith
  3. Brush tipper from Michelle Stewart
  4. Tipper with center groove made by Bill Alexander
  5. Snake wood tipper
  6. Ebony tipper from Brians Bodhrans center groove is offset
  7. Bottom Row: Cocbollo tipper from Davey Drums
  8. Center groove offset tipper from Davey drums
  9. Center ridge
  10. The remainder are from a pkg of tippers bought on ebay

My favorite is the brush tipper as I can use this as a brush only or by changing the angle slightly I can have a tipper w/o brush and can alternate during a tune w/o changing tippers. I like the tippers with center or offset grooves for playing fast jigs and reels as I can get a good grip on the tipper. The tipper from Cas is nice and light and great for triplets. The ebony is good for 2am when everyone is loud so the drum has to be loud also ! Its a very heavy tipper though so does tend to fatigue the wrist after a bit. Glenn Stout tipper is small and light for soft playing I have added some fabric to some of the tippers to soften the tone.

Dean Bailey – Newfoundland, Canada


North Carolina, USA

I didn’t like the tipper that came with the Bodhran. There aren’t any stores locally, here in Shelby, NC, that sell them, so I had to order one, all the way from Belfast. It’s a no. 7 from Walton’s. If it weren’t for the rubber band, I’d forever be chasing after it. Thanks for the tip. 🙂

Deb Kinney-Soltis – North Carolina, USA

Hong Kong

Hello Michelle, here is my tipper collection.

Left to right:

  1. Glenluce Bodhran Whacks.  16 pieces of cane 23.5cm long, taped handle and adjustable ring
  2. Glenluce Bodhran Brush, Double.  Beater/tipper with brush ends. Can be cut to desired length
  3. Glenluce Cocuswood Beater.  21cm long bodhran tipper
  4. Glenluce Rosewood Beater.  Straight 23cm long bodhran tipper, around 10mm thick
  5. Ball ended 23cm long bodhran tipper.
  6. Glenluce Leather ended beater.  Bodhran tipper made from Rosewood with leather covered ends
Fung Ever – Hong Kong

Michigan, now Colorado, USA

Not a very exciting collection but I’m new to the Bodhran. I made them all except the one on the right. Although I’m new to the bodhran I have played drums for over 50 years. Much easier to carry around just one drum. 🙂

Gary J. Simpson – Michigan, now Colorado, USA



Hi Michelle

My name is Georges VASSEUR, I live in France and I like celtic music very well. In 2012, I was for 10 days in Irland where I bought a Waltons bodhran and I’ve learned to play with it.

Later I bought a secondhand bodhran “Brendan White” and I play with it almost every day for 20 minutes. Now I’ve begun to make myself tippers and it’s very funny. I send here a photo from my tippers with them I play.


Georges VASSEUR – France

1 & 2.  Made in France (Jura)
3 & 4. Buy in France (Tiar Sonerien)
5. Brendan White
6. Buy in France
7. Buy in France
8 to 21. Made in France by myself, Georges Vasseur (8 for a giant)
8 to 19. Black-wood (acacia in French)
20. I don’t know

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Family Tipper Collection:

Most of my tippers are made from cocoa bolo wood.

Here they are left to right:

  1. Fashioned by Jim Hunter out of Ottawa, Ontario. This was my first child. She has brass ends which gives me a nice weighty hit. I mainly use it for jigs
  2. Next one over with the mother-of-pearl is also a Jim Hunter tipper again a jig tipper
  3. The next two are from the same wood type. These ones are made from Dr. Ray Thomas (Dr. T) He made most of my tippers (I play with Ray at our sessions). They’re again both jig tippers,
  4. Made by Dr. T
  5. The next two really skinny lads are my speed demon reel tippers. The string bean one was actually made for John Joe Kelly by Jim Hunter and was my second child. John Joe has one of these. I got the second one made.
  6. Ray made the one with the bell end.
  7. The next two are split tippers, both made by the good Doctor. The darker of the two is split on one end.
  8. The other is double ended split these are for marches
  9. 10. & 11. The last three are my brushes for the softer side, or if play to jazz (which happens more often than you think). All my brushes where made again by the good Doctor. The bristles are from a push broom. The rubber on the end change the sound and protect the bristles when traveling.

All my Hunter tippers come with a mother-of-pearl inlay.

Well that’s the kids, hope this helps. Take care Michelle.

Greg Clark – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Lyon, France

From left to right :

  1. Dayly tipper
  2. Made during a masterclass with Francis McIlduf (At First Light) at the Irish festival Celticimes’2011 (France). There’s 3 different types of scotch-tape on this one, it is a technical masterpiece… 2/ an attempt to copy it later, it is cleaner, but can’t play with it…
  3. Great mahogany tipper made by Brendan White, fantastic irish bodhran maker in Holland, customized with a piece of leather, for a gong-drum sound. I got this one with my first real bodhran (from Brendan), loosing this one would break my heart
  4. A split one, from Brendan too, on a great afternoon of heavy sun in Lorient Interceltic Festival in summer’2012, when Brendan told us why he began to make bodhrans…
  5. Dayly tipper#1, made from snakewood by a french flute maker, Louis Jourdan. One end is covered with a felt pad. Amazing sound.
  6. Another one from Louis, a bit heavy for top end play
  7. Standard drummer brush, great sound, hard on the wrist.
  8. Tipper from another french flute maker “La flûte en chantier”. A bit too short
  9. Standard painter brush. Too heavy, I keep it because it is blue. And, you never know when you need a last minute paint up
  10. Not on the picture. Can’t find it. this one is (was?) made of light-yellow boxwood, lathen by a wood-plate maker that I met quite by chance at a rock festival. We talked about bodhrans and he tried to make one for the first time… and it was a crack one !
Blandine Moraweck – Lyon, France

To view Part 4 Click Here

To view Part 5 Click Here 

If you have any of the tippers featured in the collections or want to share insight that might be useful to your fellow drummers please leave a comment below.

Stay tuned. Lots more great collections coming soon . . .


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I Officially Have Bodhran Tipper Envy – Part 2

by MichelleStewart on August 31, 2012

(Aug 2012) Check out the other half of my friend Lauraileen’s bodhran tipper collection that she brought to the Gaelic College this year. It was certainly fun playing around with them.

I wish I could have seen my own face when I tried number 10. It’s not just incredibly cool to look at either. It sounds like nothing else I’ve ever tried before so I’ll definitely be ordering myself one of those funky little numbers. In fact, I think I’ll start making up my bodhran tipper Christmas wish list and conveniently leave it where my husband is sure to see it.


Tipper Collection 2nd Half

1. Albert Alfonso
2.Brian’s Beaters T-Rod
3.From the music store in Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
4.Brian’s Beaters
5.Albert Alfonso
6.Albert Alfonso
7.David Robson Woolly Top at Craiceann
8.Falconwood Tippers
9.Brian’s Beaters T-Rod
10.David Robson Acrylic Top Clicker at Craiceann
11.Falconwood Tippers
12.Allen Kirkpatrick of Bethesda Woodworks
13.Brendan White Clicker
14.Brendan White
15.Allan Collison at Craiceann
16.Christian Hedwitshak Snakewood
17.Cormac Byrne  Bodhrod – Blayne Chastain uses this on his online Bodhran course 

If you haven’t seen the first half of the collection yet click here.

AND, as always, I love it when you share info about your tippers, where you got them and your own tipper stories. It’s a great help to everyone else who is thinking about investing in some new tippers too.

The posts left under Part 1 (1st Half Of the Collection) were super so thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute there.

Please leave a comment below to add your two cents on tippers and feel free to click the Facebook ‘recommend’ or Twitter ‘tweet this’ buttons to share this post with your bodhran playing friends.

Keep calm and drum on.

~ Michelle



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I Officially Have Bodhran ‘Tipper Envy’ – Part 1

by MichelleStewart on August 13, 2012

(August 2012) Back in Scotland after three weeks home in Cape Breton. I had the most amazing week with my bodhran students at the Gaelic College.

We had a bit of a BodhranExpert Platinum members reunion with drummers flying and driving in from Ireland, California, Ontario, Manitoba, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania as well as locals from the Maritimes.

Lots of photos still to come from that, but I am really excited to share this incredible tipper collection with you. I have huge ‘tipper envy’ for my friend Lauraileen O’Connor’s bodhran tipper collection.


Tipper Collection (1st Half)

The tippers in the photo are numbered so you can see who made it below. Most names are hyperlinked to take you directly to the maker’s site.

1. Valentin at Craiceann (Aislin Ceoil on FB)
2. Don’t remember who made it but it was made for Craiceann 2011
3. Allan Collison at Craiceann
4. Allen Kirkpatrick of Bethesda Woodworks
5. Christian Hedwitshak
6. Ben March
7. Neil Lyons
8. Falconwood Tippers Robbie Walsh edition
9. Falconwood Tippers
10. Christian Hedwitshak
11. Belgarth???
12. Falconwood Tippers
13. Allen Kirkpatrick of BethesdaWoodworks
14. ChristianHedwitshak
15. Christian Hedwitshak
16. ???
17. Falconwood Tippers
18. Glenn Stout
19. Falconwood Tippers
20. ChristianHedwitshak
21. ChristianHedwitshak
22. ChristianHedwitshak
23. Brian’s Bodhran Beaters (made from the wood of table damage in a fire – still has a burn mark on it!)

I was lucky enough to get a brief try with most of these and realized it’s time to invest in a few new beaters myself. This is only HALF OF THE COLLECTION. Click here to see the 2nd Half.

Can you do me a favour? Could you please leave a comment if you have any of these and share what you think of them so others can benefit from your first hand experience.

Also feel free to add any information you might have about the unknown make and contact info for any of the names not linked to a maker’s website or Facebook page.

Lastly don’t forget you can click  the Facebook ‘Recommend’ button below to share this collection with any of your friends.

Keep Calm and Drum On!

~ Michelle


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Video Library

by MichelleStewart on October 27, 2011

I’m in the process of gathering some of my students’ favorite bodhran videos for you to listen to and learn from as well as playing along with. So, no more excuses for not knowing what to practice during your 10 Minutes A Day Practice Challenge.

I’ll be posting more videos here on a regular basis so please send me the link to any of your own favourites in the comment section below.

You know I love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment about any of the videos or how you’re doing in your bodhran journey.

Drum On!

~ Michelle

Donnchadh Gough

Moving Hearts – Live In Dublin – The Lark on MUZU.TV.
Moving Hearts – Live In Dublin – The Lark

The History of the Bodhran 1973-1982

John Joe Kelly

Steafan Hannigan

Lucy Randall

Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh

Jim Sutherland

Jim Higgins

Cormac Byrne plays bodhran at Craiceann in Inisheer 2010

Beoga – Eamon Murray

Mance Grady bodhran solo from 2007 CCCF

Robbie Walsh

Tommy Hayes demonstrates his Bodhran Technique with and without beater.

This video is one that inspired many to learn bodhran so it’s only appropriate to post it here.

Some truly amazing bodhran playing by Martin O’Neill.

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.

Rocky Road to Dublin – Kelly Family + Chieftains

Billie Jean on the bodhran by Tad Sargent

Documentary featuring Seamus O’Kane and Rolf Wagels

Cormac Byrne

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How I Got Musically UNSTUCK!

by MichelleStewart on August 1, 2011

Practicing my fiddle

Hey everyone,

I’m here at my mum’s place on the Bras d’Or Lakes in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and it’s just been a cracker of a day. I’m into my second week of teaching bodhran at the Gaelic College and I was so inspired after an awesome day of lessons and ‘a-ha’ moments that I found some time to get my fiddle out to practice tonight.

I have to tell you though, I’m not great on fiddle yet, but I’m getting better with instruction from my amazing teacher, Dara MacDonald. When I’m in Scotland Dara gets up at 6 a.m. Nova Scotia time to give me a Skype fiddle lesson at 10 a.m. Scotland time. I’m really grateful she does because she then goes off to teach a full day of school followed by more Skype lessons at night.

I am writing this to tell any of you who are thinking about learning a musical instrument, whether it’s bodhran, fiddle or whatever you’re passionate about, and you’ve been looking for a teacher in your area, that there’s never been a better time to learn. You don’t need to have someone in person, locally, to teach you anymore so there’s NO EXECUSES.

I can personally vouch for Skype or video lessons. It’s an amazing gift to give to yourself. I turned 40 this year and this is one of the things that I’m giving to myself. I’ve always wanted to play the fiddle, and for years I’ve just been transferring over pipe tunes I knew and hit a plateau where I taught myself all I could. I definitely needed help if I wanted to get better. I know I probably won’t ever get to the point of recording a fiddle cd or anything like that, but I just get so much joy out of playing it and I love the music.

I admit, I don’t really get alot of time to practice, but it fills me up. So, if you’re like me, and there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, I want to tell you that you are NEVER TOO OLD and it’s NEVER TOO LATE to learn.

Life is too short to not do the things you want to do.

~ Michelle

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Slow Down Series: Volume #4

by MichelleStewart on May 29, 2023

In this final Volume of our Slow Down Series I’m going to share with you two more ways to adjust the Playback Speed for practising.

Free Tool Alert! – Global Speed Extension for Firefox

Step 1: Firefox Browser required so if you don’t have it on your computer, download that first.

Step 2: Download the Global Speed Browser Extension HERE 
This is a FREE browser extension by POLYWOCK.
Once downloaded you will see a black puzzle piece in top right corner of browser 

Step 3: Open your Audio or Video. Compatible with nearly all video and audio streaming sites including Youtube, Netflix, Twitch, Spotify, podcast sites, etc.

Step 4: When you click the PUZZLE PIECE icon in the top right hand corner a drop-down menu will appear. Click on Global Speed (as seen in mage below)

Change the tempo by tapping the arrows to the immediate right or left of the main tempo number in the middle. This allows you to adjust the speed by as little as 1%. 



To make the image above larger simply hold down the Command Key and tap the + button on your keyboard. Or right click on the image and choose ‘Open Image In New Tab’


Already have Editing Software?
Most editing programs will also have a speed adjustment function. 
If you have a video or audio editing suite, like Camtasia or something similar, you will have the ability to adjust Clip Speed

Drum On! 😀

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Slow Down Series: Volume #3

by MichelleStewart on May 29, 2023

‘Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.’

– E.F. Schumacher –
via Bruce Gandy’s book ‘Performance: Delivering Your Own Awesome’

Our friend and bagpiper, Bruce Gandy, stays with us when he comes to Scotland so we were fortunate to be one of the first people to get his book, Performance.

There is so much great advice inside and one of the gems he suggests is, ‘learn to love the discipline of practice’. 

Isn’t that a great way to think?

After posting last week’s blog I was inspired to get my fiddle out for the first time in a while and truly embrace that idea with my fiddle practice.

Do you know what tool I immediately went to? 

The Amazing Slow Downer!


The first track I dug out was Buddy MacMaster playing King George The Fourth strathspey from his album, Judique On The Floor. 

When I was home in Cape Breton last summer I caught up with legendary songwriter, Allister MacGillivray, who is most widely recognised for writing Song For The Mira.

Allister shared some fascinating behind-the-scenes tales of when he was producing that very album of Buddy’s, featuring John Morris Rankin on piano. Buddy wanted himself and John Morris to be in the room together, recording both instruments at the same time. 

We also caught up on how our kids were doing, bonded over our mutual love of tracks with irregular time signatures and he had me completely engrossed as he described the long, pain-staking process of getting his first music books typeset and published compared to how easy it is nowadays.

Our son, Cameron Stewart, and Allister MacGillivray at his shop,
Apple On The Wharf, on the Sydney waterfront. (July 2022)

I found an old piping book in Allister’s shop, Apple On The Wharf, that made my jaw drop.

It’s an entire ‘you’ll never believe it’ story in itself and will have to be shared in its own blog post another time. 

As I cracked my fiddle case open that image of Buddy and John Morris in the studio, with Allister on the other side of the glass ready to press record, flashed in my mind.

I have fond memories of teaching with Buddy at the Gaelic College and John Morris playing piano with us in our Halifax Police Pipe Band concerts in the early 90’s.

It is not lost on me how fortunate I was to grow up around such musical Greats.

After tuning my fiddle and digging out my sheet music I realised I didn’t have the King George track on my phone so below I’ll show you exactly how I got it from my laptop into the ASD app on my phone.


The Amazing Slow Downer is best known for its speed and pitch-adjusting abilities, but the LOOP TOOL is one of my other favourite features.

You see, I get you because I am just like you. 

When I’m learning a tune on the fiddle, I get the same irrational thoughts:

. . .  the ones where common sense has left the building

. . .  when you get so excited and into the music that after only two tries through a part your heart says ‘Let’s go faster!’

. . . even though you haven’t managed to play that part without error even ONCE yet that voice still says ‘OK. let’s try it faster now.’

. . . that voice that says, ‘I want to be awesome. . . . yesterday!’

I know and love this classic tune, King George IV, so much that I hear that little voice in my head that says, ‘Ooh, this is so fun – let’s go faster so we can sound like and feel like Buddy’. 

But even at 45% tempo, my crunchy little fingers can’t quite move at the same faster speed as my bow when I hit those 16th notes in the last bar of Part 1.

And I admit . . .  a small piece of me wants to play the first three bars faster and just fluff through the hard part at the end. AND I KNOW BETTER!!! I teach NOT to do that. Can you relate?

THAT is how I know how you feel and what support you need for your music journey because I am just like you.

Although I am a music teacher, I have a very strong ‘student’ brain.

Sharing Music From Computer to Mobile to Use ASD App

Last week my iMac bit the dust so I’ve been working mostly from my very old laptop and mobile phone until my new computer arrives.

I don’t have the Amazing Slow Downer software on my laptop so I’m going to show to exactly how I got the track from there onto my ASD phone app.

This week I really felt the benefit of using the LOOP TOOL to focus on Part 1 of King George so I thought I’d share how I did that with you. 

When I start talking about the Amazing Slow Downer I sound like an evangelist because I just love it, especially how it helps me meet my students where they are at. It will do the same for you. 

Many others must agree with me because the ASD YouTube video I made fourteen years ago is among the top 12 most viewed ASD videos on YouTube.

Years ago I would ask my husband, Mark, to record a set of tunes for me at five or six different tempos so I could use them for teaching.

The introduction of the Amazing Slow Downer allowed me to record him once, with a metronome, and then adjust the original audio to however many different track tempos I wanted.

I can’t stress enough how important it is for novice players, of accompanying instruments in particular, to be able to hear the melody as they’re learning a new score so they can truly understand how it goes along with the melody maker.

Playing along with a backing track also makes you feel like you’re getting somewhere and is much more encouraging and interesting to practice with. 

There is nothing quite like seeing one of your seven-year-old drum kit students performing at a music workshop in front of their classmates and parents playing Uptown Funk – even if it is at 67% tempo –at that moment they feel like a ROCK STAR! 

You can also change the pitch if you want. The very juvenile part of me loves putting the Barra MacNeils Christmas albums on and cranking the pitch up. Seriously, if they put their Xmas albums into the ASD and resold them as the Barra MacChipmunks versions I would totally buy those too.

Amazing Slow Downer by Roni Music: The full version is £14.99 on the UK app store and £12.40 for Androids in the Google Play store.

It’s also available for computers, but the software is more expensive so I’d recommend the app for most users.

I am not an affiliate, just a happy customer.  

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Slow Down Series: Volume #2

by MichelleStewart on May 29, 2023

‘There are no races in music.
Practicing slowly means you have time to think about what you’re doing,
analyze your hands and your state of mind as you go,
and sort out problems as they come up. 

If you’re going too fast,
you’re skipping over the little details
that the great players of the world pay attention to.’

– Matt MacIsaac –

That quote from my buddy, Matt MacIsaac, bagpiper and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire, pretty much says it best, doesn’t it?

Playing slowly actually takes a lot of control, but reaps a wealth of benefits.

Just try playing a certain rhythm or exercise along with a metronome at a slowed down tempo and set the timer for a minute. You would be SHOCKED at how difficult it can be if you’re a novice music student.

Most musicians or music teachers will have an abundance of metronomes and slow downer tools at their ready for practising or teaching. 

The decision to use one resource over another might depend on: 

  • whether I’m using a computer or mobile device
  • if I have access to internet or not
  • if it’s a video or audio
  • where I have the file stored and how easy it can be imported to a particular app or software
  • or whether it’s a tool my student will have access to once they go home. That way I can demonstrate how they can use it. 

In this Volume #2 of the Slow Down Series I’m going to share with you how to use the VLC Media Player app.

I have been using the free VLC Media Player computer software for a while, but this week my sweet, elderly 27″ iMac is away getting repaired so I’m working mostly from my iPhone. 

Next week I’ll be introducing one of my promising, young snare drum students to his first big March, Strathspey and Reel so as I sat in bed with my coffee this morning I got playing with the VLC Media Player App.

I have a video of the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band playing the MSR at a recent practice and will be using it as a backing track while teaching. However, no one learns their first MSR at full tempo. So, I adjusted the playback speed of the video and took details notes so I could show you exactly how I did.

Mobile Device – Free VLC Media Player App in App Store

Computer – VLC Media Player Software : Free to download at

 – How to Slow Down a Video Or Audio In VLC Media Player App –

I think it’s important that when you appreciate great music, to then share it with your friends.

So, in the spirit of sharing here is Matt MacIsaac’s YouTube Channel. You might want to use the YouTube Playback Speed tool I shared with you in Volume #1 of this series to play along with Matt in this big blast of reels. I clocked him at around 112 bpm. 

Pick up your instrument and play some music today because it might just make you feel good

. . . and who doesn’t want to feel good? 😀

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Slow Down Series – Volume #1

by MichelleStewart on May 29, 2023

‘Sometimes to learn fast you have to slow waaaay down.’ 
– Tim Ferriss –

In my 42 years of drumming and teaching I have found one of the resources I use most are slow downing tools.

Whether I’m teaching drum kit, snare, bodhrán, bass or tenor drum, I use this tool to every week in my private school lessons.

Once you’ve learned an exercise, rhythm sequence or full score, it is so much more rewarding and encouraging to play along with the backing track.

However, many (if not most) tracks are simply too fast to play with at what I call the ‘Learning Tempo’. 

Taking our time to play with clarity and control may not sound as fun and exciting as playing along to tunes at rip-roaring speeds, but playing with control at slower tempos will set us up for full-speed success.  

Your hands love repetition, but they may get too tired looping a pattern at a faster pace. If this is the case don’t hesitate to simply slow down. 

Even inside my Keepers Of The Rhythm course, (the next level up from my Platinum Level 1) I break all down the rhythms into Level 2: ‘Learning’ Tempo, Level 3: ‘I Can Do It’ Tempo and Level 4: ‘She’s Crazy’ Tempo because I understand what my students need at each stage of the journey. 

Slow doesn’t mean we’re not capable of doing the rhythm faster.

We’re just choosing to play it slower in the pursuit of mastery.

In this first volume of the Slow Down Series I’ll share a tool I personally use a lot.


How to slow down a YouTube Video: Mobile & Desktop





Here is the Playlist I promised you in my audio message.

I love creating Playlists of different time signatures for my online course members. 

Get your drum out, pick a track from the playlist and try out the YouTube Playback Speed tool to find the tempo just right for you. 

Drum on and smile at strangers. 😀

p.s. If you didn’t get the audio coaching I mentioned you’re missing out on the cool info I only share with my email list. 

When you sign up for all the good stuff here you’ll also get my Playing With Dynamics pdf 

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KOTR Level 2, 3 & 4

by MichelleStewart on April 14, 2023


Keepers Of The Rhythm – Level 2, 3 & 4


. .. NOT JUST PLAYING bodhrán, but being exceptionally good at it.

. . . .Silencing the Negative Nancy in your head telling you ‘Other people are just naturally talented at it. It comes easy to them.’

. . . Trusting you wouldn’t DESIRE to be an incredible drummer if it wasn’t possible for you.

. . . No longer feeling embarrassed by the fact you haven’t done much to get closer to your musical dream because now you’re listening to your longings.

. . . Feeling like YOU again!.

. . . you know who I mean

. . . the YOU who feels so alive and blissed out when drumming that it’s like you’ve entered another dimension, where someone would get an electric shock if they touched you in that moment and all seems right in the world.

If something stirred in you when you read that, you are ready to LEVEL UP and become a Keeper Of The Rhythm?

Check out the SUPER DUPER IN-DEPTH, SUITE OF COURSES you get access to:

How do I know if I’m ready for KOTR?
Perfect for you if:

You have already gone through, or currently going through, BodhránExpert Platinum Membership Level 1

You  would consider yourself to be either an Advanced Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced Intermediate drummer

You’re getting nowhere fast trying to learn on your own and wish you had someone to guide you by the hand every step of the way

You want to be able to follow a program at your own pace, but with the structure and guidance equivalent to private lessons

You have a passion for music and ready to make a quantum leap in your playing with a friendly, supportive and enthusiastic teacher with 42 years of drumming experience.

You’re starting to think you just might be bodhrán obsessed

KOTR is NOT for you if:

You’re a raw beginner on the bodhrán (if so BEPM Platinum Level 1 would be perfect for you)

You’re an excuse maker and you want to keep procrastinating so you’ll be no further ahead this time next year

    You aren’t willing to take advice and be coachable

    You can’t invest in yourself and your success

    You aren’t ready to take the necessary steps to take your playing to the next level

   You don’t even like music

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Upcoming Events 2023

April 14, 2023

Come Drum With Me In Cape Breton This Summer I’m so happy to announce I’ll be back teaching bodhrán at Colaisde na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic College in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada again this summer (2023). This year I’ll be there for Adult Session 1  August 7th – 11th, 2023. There are five classes a day and […]

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Platinum Level 1

December 13, 2020

BodhránExpert Platinum Membership – Level 1 LOVED my free YouTube videos and ready to level up? BodhránExpert Platinum Membership – Level 1 is perfect for raw beginners, advanced beginners or intermediate players. If you’ve been struggling along by yourself for a while this course will get you out of your Rhythm Rut and become better […]

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March 8, 2018

July 23rd – 27th, 2018 Colaisde na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic College – Family Summer Session 51779 Cabot Trail, St. Ann’s, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada July 25th, 2018 Colaisde na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic College – Wednesday Night Ceilidh Great Hall Of The Clans  51779 Cabot Trail, St. Ann’s, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada Aug. 6th – […]

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April 21, 2016

June 10th – 12th – PEI, Canada – The North Atlantic Tionól  Sign up here July 25th – 29th – Cape Breton, NS, Canada  – Gaelic College  Sign up here August 1st – 5th – Baddeck, NS, Canada –  Private Workshop  (Sold Out)        

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Slippery Slip Jig Tracks For Practising Bodhrán

October 29, 2015

  Slip jigs (9/8) are one of my favourite tune types to play on the bodhrán, but many who are new to them can find it difficult to tell the difference between 9/8 and 6/8 jigs. The best solution for this is to listen to lots of great tracks to get more familiar with them. […]

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